Forget self-driving cars; how about captain-less ships?

Rolls-Royce isn’t the only company building autonomous ocean ships.

Japan’s Nippon Yusen reportedly will begin testing a remote-controlled cargo vessel in 2019. Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. also are crafting their own versions of self-driving boats. The effort is backed by Japan’s government, which has stated plans to float 250 autonomous ships by 2025.

Kongsberg Maritime AS, a Norwegian naval engineering firm, has announced plans for the Yara Birkeland, a 250-foot ship that not only will be autonomous but also fully powered by electricity. The ship is being designed to dock and set sail by itself, with no humans needed to maneuver it.

The Birkeland, scheduled to be afloat in 2020, will travel among three ports in southern Norway.

TRENDPOST: Autonomous ships can cut shipping costs by reducing crew, but still face many of the same issues as self-driving cars, including questions about how well the technology works, insurance and liability.

Our analyses of the driverless-car trend apply to driverless ships: “For every promise of a Jetsons-like near-term automated-vehicle future, there is a parallel and under-reported track of failed tests and a long list of promises from manufacturers that have not come to fruition.”

However, we believe driverless ships will come before driverless cars.

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